For Immediate Release
Contact: Lindsay Jones

National Center for Learning Disabilities Endorses Legislation to Removes Barriers, Promote Opportunities for College Students with Disabilities

December 8, 2016 — The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is hailing today’s introduction of the Respond, Innovate, Succeed and Empower Act (RISE Act) sponsored by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) as an important policy change in support of college-seeking young adults with disabilities.

One in five children and adults nationwide are living with learning and attention issues.  According to NCLD’s research 94% students with learning disabilities received accommodations in high school, but only 17% received accommodations in post-secondary education. Among those who did not receive accommodations in post – secondary education, 43% wished they had.

If enacted, the RISE Act will remedy a long-standing obstacle for students with well-documented disabilities who may otherwise be required to undergo new, costly diagnostic testing to ‘prove’ their disability, even if they have received special education services and accommodations throughout elementary, middle and high school.

The proposed legislation removes a financial burden for all college students with disabilities by clarifying that a past individualized education program (IEP), among other types of documentation commonly held by students with disabilities in their K-12 education, will be sufficient to establish a student has a disability in college.  Decisions about accommodations for individual students will continue to be made by the institution of higher education and student.

“The RISE Act clears the path for students with disabilities to get the support they need to thrive and succeed in college. No student with a documented disability should have to incur additional costs to prove it when they get to college and I commend the National Center for Learning Disabilities for working with me on solving this critical issue,” stated Senator Casey.

“I’ve always sought to champion the rights of those with disabilities. An important part of these efforts was the Americans with Disabilities Act, a bill I authored that fundamentally changed the way we treat disability accommodations. The RISE Act carries on this legacy by removing obstacles for students with disabilities and ensuring they have every chance to succeed in pursuing educational opportunities,” stated Senator Hatch.

“Students with dyslexia are often among the brightest among us. Removing barriers and giving appropriate supports to dyslexic students through college is vital to assuring that they fulfill their potential,” stated Senator Cassidy.

New research released today by NCLD and Understood ( shows that nearly half of parents (47%) report that the documentation requirements to show a student has a disability in college is confusing and unclear.  And nearly two-thirds (72%) of parents of high school students currently considering college and currently seeking accommodations have found it difficult to find information about disability services at different colleges.  The RISE Act will help to remedy this problem by easing the process from transitioning from high school to college and by authorizing $10 million to support the expansion of a technical assistance center for prospective college students with disabilities and their families to help in the college-selection process.  This center will also provide support to colleges to train faculty about the needs of students with disabilities.

“With high school graduation rates at an all-time high for students with disabilities, we must ensure that colleges and universities become more welcoming environments for diverse learners,” stated Mimi Corcoran, President & CEO of NCLD.

“The RISE Act closes a loophole that often requires college students with a documented disability to undergo new, costly diagnostic testing in college to be eligible for accommodations.  Not only will the RISE Act reduce this financial burden on students – and their families – but it will allow students and colleges to shift their focus on the important goal of promoting academic success.  NCLD applauds the bi-partisan leadership of Senators Casey, Hatch, and Cassidy and stands ready to support this legislation as it moves through Congress,” Corcoran concluded.


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